Fun Facts About Northern Cardinals with Craft Round-Up and DIY Birdfeeders, Bee Baths & More!

During this pandemic we have been finding ways to enjoy our home. One of my favorite things about our home is our backyard and we do not spend enough time in it. Last year we bought some gliding chairs for the small patio off of Hazel's clubhouse. It is one of my favorite places to sit outside. It is almost always in the shade and just comfortable. This year we also added a hammock for me to lay in and read (if Hazel doesn't beat me to it). I also took back some space in our family room so I can sit in the corner and look out the window at my birdfeeders. I found most of the time outside I sat and watched the birds rather than read the book I brought out. Have you made adjustments in your house now that you are spending more time there? Are you spending more time there?

Pair of Northern Cardinals by Ken Thomas / Public domain

I love seeing all the critters in our yard. We have squirrels, rabbits, birds, butterflies, bees, dragonflies and so much more. Some years we get to see the turtles that come up to lay their eggs. We have two sides of our backyard with a creek around it. In the spring and late summer we have ducks. There is always something to see. Hazel loves to see the ducks and bunnies. I have fallen in love with the female Northern Cardinal. I love her bright orange beak compared to her muted tan, rose, grey body. I think she is just beautiful. Since I have been enjoying our critters so much I thought I would start a new series--Who's in the backyard?--where I share fun facts about the animals in my yard as well as a craft round-up. This week we will start with my new love--the Northern Cardinals! 

Fun Facts About Northern Cardinals

Northern cardinals are also called common cardinal, redbird, and Virginia nightingale. They are about 8 to 9 inches in size and weigh 1.5 to 1.8 ounces. (Note: Links in fun facts will take you to photos that were not public for me to use.) I always put some birdseed on the ground for the larger critters and this is often where the cardinals eat.

Male below our feeder
  1. Cardinals are usually the first bird in the morning and last bird in the evening to visit bird feeders. The males like the low lighting so they are not as noticeable.

  2. Female at our feeder

  3. Cardinals name comes from colonial times where the red birds reminded them of the Catholic Cardinal’s clothes. The birds' crests even reminded the Colonists of the Cardinals' hats. 
  4. Their diet is mostly seeds. They also eat insects, grains and fruits.
  5. During courtship males show their affection by feeding the female beak to beak. Looks like they are kissing! I have witnessed this between the father and one of the fledglings at my feeder.
  6. Rare but there can be yellow Northern Cardinals. This is caused by a genetic plumage variation called xanthochroism.
  7. Average lifespan of a cardinal in the wild is 3 years due to the hardships like predators, disease, accidents and starvation. In captivity they can live up to 28½ years.
  8. The oldest wild Northern cardinal on record lived to be 15 years and 9 months. She was banded and tracked in Pennsylvania.
  9. In winter they form flocks to search for food since they are usually more successful in a group rather than singly or pairs. The flocks can be called a college, conclave, deck, radiance, or Vatican of cardinals.
  10. The Northern cardinal is the official state bird to seven states. It is the mascot of 2 professional sports teams and numerous colleges.
  11. Unlike most songbirds, cardinals are typically nonmigratory species. They stay in their chosen area in the winter. They also rely on feeders in the winter so keep feeding them!
  12. Carotenoids cause the males to have red plumage. They get eat food that contains the carotenoids or yellow, orange and red pigments. They maintain their red color throughout the year.
  13. Northern cardinals are monogamous. They usually mate for life unless there is an issue with having babies then they may split apart.

  14. Cardinal Fledgling at Our Feeder

  15. While the female sits on the eggs the male protects the nest and brings his mate food. Once the eggs hatch both parents feed the nestlings. If the fledglings are still around after another brood is laid the father takes on the care of the fledglings. They typically three clutches of eggs per season.
  16. Cardinal eggs
    Cardinal Eggs by Patparks / Public domain

  17. Both the male and female can sing. This is unlike any other species of songbirds. They are known for their songs and can sing at least 24 different songs. The female is said to have more songs than the male. In the 1800's people would keep them in cages to hear their beautiful songs.
  18. Cardinals molt and can look bald.
  19. Most other cardinals are tropical birds. Northern cardinals are found throughout eastern, southern, central and southwestern United States as well as eastern Mexico and as far south as Guatemala and Belize.
  20. Cardinals will attack to defend their territory. They will even attack their own reflections in mirrors, windows, etc.
  21. Cardinals practice anting. This is the act of covering oneself with ants. The reason is the ants release formic acids that ward off lice. Over 200 species of birds practice anting.
  22. Cardinals are a symbol of confidence and balance. There is also a legend in the South that says if a red bird passes you it is a dead loved one coming for a visit.
  23. In 2011 a dual-sex cardinal was photographed by Larry Ammann in Texas. It was half male and half female. The right side was grey and the left side was the red.


Cardinal Craft Round-Up

As you teach your kids about the backyard critters it is fun to do some crafts. I had big plans to make an applique quilt square of a female cardinal as well as needle felt a cardinal and perhaps a felt cardinal. I haven't gotten to any of them yet. For some more craft ideas and tutorials be sure to check out my Pinterest Board on Birds and the Cardinal Section.
1) Button Cardinal from Adventure in a Box
2) Clay Cardinal from Red Ted Art
4) Handprint Cardinal Card from Simple Everyday Mom
5) Paper Cardinal from Red Ted Art
6) Color-Your-Own 3-D Cardinal (colored by Hazel)

DIY Crafts to Attract Critters

Now I know not everyone has the yard we have and you may not get all the critters in your yard. I asked some fellow bloggers to share some of their DIY crafts that help the animals out in our yards. 

Simple Bird Feeders

1) 3 Different people shared toilet paper roll feeders from Ideas for the Home by Kenarry, STEAM Powered Family, and A Day in Our Shoes (shares worksheets and more to go with it)
2) Birdseed cookie feeders from Kitchen Counter Chronicles and ours
3) Birdhouse feeder from Non Toy Gifts
4) Birdseed wreath from Kitchen Counter Chronicles
5) Pine cone birdfeeders from Red Ted Art
6) Cup molded birdfeeders from Growing Family

More Bird Feeders (Most with Recycled Materials)

1) Milk Carton Birdfeeder from Ideas for the Home by Kenarry
2) Owl Juice Carton Birdfeeder from Red Ted Art
3) Milk Bottle Birdfeeder from Finding Myself Young
4) Water Bottle Birdfeeder from Our Kid Things
5) Orange Skin Birdfeeders from Danya Banya
6) Bowl Birdfeeder from Non-Toy Gifts
7) Recycled Dish Birdfeeders from Ever Change Productions

Other Critter Attractions

1) Bee Water Station from The Gingerbread House
2) Mason Bee Houses from Ever Change Productions
3) Bee Watering Station from The Kitchen Counter Chronicle
4) Butterfly Feeder from The Homespun Hydrangea
6) Weeds for critters (rabbits and more)
7) Butterfly Houses from Ever Change Productions

I hope you will check out some of these ideas and start enjoying the critters in your yard. Plus join us next week for another critter!! Please share photos of your own critters in the comments or on my Facebook page! I would love to see who is in your yard!